Getting media to your event takes more than sending a blanket press release with the same information to every journalist you can find on a list. It takes a personalized media pitch for each journalist—and an event that’s unique enough to earn coverage. We gathered 10 tips from PR gurus Karen Henry, owner of The PR Boutique in Houston, and Kellie McCrory, owner of MCA Public Relations in Dallas, on how to get the press to your event.
Unique or quirky events get covered. “When we represented Lamborghini Houston, we had an event at the Rienzi, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston house museum,” says Henry. The museum in known for American decorative art and paintings and didn’t represent the typical image of what most customers and individuals associate with the Lamborghini brand. However, the newest model of Lamborghini Huracán, which the event was to unveil, was an upscale car that was only available on backorder. The goal was to “elevate it in the eyes of public,” says Henry. Lamborghini could have held the event at the dealership, but the unique location scored more coverage.
Pair a for-profit business with a nonprofit organization. “Reach new customers by proving that you’re involved in the community,” says Henry. “These kind of events work best when the nonprofit has a clear tie in. We work a lot with Bayou Preservation Association, a local nonprofit that oversees bayou waterways. Most events are held at venues near the waters.”
Tootsies department stores, for example, host combined nonprofit events and fashion shows that feature nationally renown designers. The events donate a portion of sales to Houston-based nonprofits such as Nora’s Home, which houses patients and their families waiting for and recovering from transplant surgery. The event gets social and fashion coverage.
Bringing in national celebrities doesn’t always equal more media coverage. “Often, someone will book a big name celebrity expecting instant media coverage,” Henry says. The problem? The press will want to interview the celebrity, and many high-profile celebrities won’t do interviews for local media. Before a company shells out $50,000 or more for a headliner, ask about the celebrity’s willingness to do interviews. Expect to buy ads and pitch calendar sections of the local press.
Don’t expect media coverage for an event that never changes. “A grand gala that happens every year may have a loyal following,” Henry says. “But if the theme never changes, the media won’t cover it.” If media coverage is important, it may be time to change the theme or try a new venue.
Never forget the importance of influential people in your community. “A local person with a huge social media following founded a charity called Dec My Room, which decorates hospital rooms for children,” says Henry. Shoe designer Elaine Turner partnered with the charity during the opening of her CityCenter store by selling a pillow that benefitted the charity. “Always think about having people with community influence on your host committee for charity events,” Henry says. “You’ll get more coverage in society columns.”
Social media buzz is as important as traditional media. Forgetting social media can be disastrous for any event. “Create your own buzz by talking about your own event on social media,” says McCrory. But don’t stop there. Let influencers in the community know details about your upcoming event so they can discuss it, too.